What we’re following 01/11/10

Jan 11th, 2010 | By | Category: Food for Thought

The Herald (Harare): Zimbabwe: USAID Gives U.S.$14 Million to Farmers, Agri-Businesses
The United States Agency for International Development has awarded approximately US$14 million to support more than 52, 000 farmers and agri-businesses in Zimbabwe.  The embassy of the United States of America Public Affairs Section said the grants would be aimed at restoring livelihoods to farmers in rural areas, with the ultimate goal of raising productivity and incomes.  Grant activites include a range of features, including vouchers for inputs (seeds, fertilizer, pesticides, etc).  One grant focuses on increasing production, processing, and marketing of meat, milk, and eggs. Other grants focus on crops like maize, groundnuts, beans, sweet potato and cotton.  Farmers in Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland West, Masvingo, Midlands, Matabeleland, and Manicaland are expected to benefit most from the grants.

New York Times: Threats Lead Food Agency to Curtail Aid in Somalia
The World Food Program announced Tuesday that it was suspending food aid to one million people in southern Somalia after receiving several threats and demands to pay a “security fee” to the Shabab, an Islamic extremist group.  Peter Smerdon, a spokesman for the program, said that the demands had been followed by a rise in intimidation, threats and harassment.  The Shabab pressed a demand that the agency not import food during the harvest season in order to encourage the development of local agriculture. Several previous Shabab statements accused the agency of undermining local agriculture, as well as importing poor quality food.  Smerdon said the agency tried to negotiate with the Shabab and community elders but ultimately made the decision to close several distribution centers.  The suspension is indefinite and will affect about a third of the 2.8 million people that the program anticipated feeding in January.

Farming Matters Magazine: What Is The Future of Family Farming
A debate between Rudy Rabbinge and Fabio Kessler Dal Soglio ensues about whether family farming can essentially compete with large-scale agriculture and feed the growing world population.  For Rabbinge “family farming should not be romanticised. Weeding and ploughing for a meagre crop is not romantic, but pure poverty.  Supporting existing structures and romanticising the poor life of farmers in fact consolidates poverty.”  He says that farmers’ children will move to cities to find other relevant work and farmers will therefore need to increase the scale of their farming.  Dal Soglio says “in general, technologies generated by family farmers are better suited to the local socio-economic and ecological conditions, and therefore are appropriate for sustainable development.”  He believes that family farming technologies adopted have essentially ensured the world’s food supply.

— ARP Staff

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